Since early into this past off season the Rangers have been looking for first base help. In December the Rangers had all but acquired third baseman Mike Lowell in exchange for catcher prospect Max Ramirez. Once Lowell was examined by Rangers doctors it was realized that he needed thumb surgery and he was sent back to the Red Sox.
Even earlier this week there was buzz about Lowell ending up as a Ranger again, since he has proven himself during the spring. He is slated to make 12 million this year, way more than the Rangers can afford, although the Red Sox had agreed to pick up 9 million of his contract in December. It is very likely that the remaining 3 million which the Ranger’s had promised in December is no longer available. So even though Lowell’s spring has looked promising, at this point he is out of reach of the Rangers.
The Rangers finally acquired their Mike Lowell in Ryan Garko, although he is a lot cheaper and six years younger than Lowell. This spring Garko has batted .220 with one home run over fifteen games for the Mariners. Garko is versatile, appearing at first base, third base, the outfield and even at catcher during his career.
The Rangers could look at having a platoon at first base between Chris Davis and Garko. Davis bats left handed and Garko bats right handed. Last season Davis struck out 40% of his at bats when facing left handed pitching and only slightly better against right handed pitching at 37% of his at bats. During the entire 2009 season he struck out 150 times in 391 total at bats.
Strikeouts is where Garko has the slight advantage over Davis in that 354 at bats last year, he only struck out 50 times. This means that Garko only struck out .14 % of his at bats last season compared to 38% of Davis’s at bats. Garko, although had fewer at bats had a batting average of 30 points higher at .268 compared to Davis’s .238 batting average. Garko only had five more walks during the season than Davis.
Garko made his debut in 2005 giving him 3 more seasons of experience compared to Davis. The Ranger’s would benefit from a left-right platoon of Garko and Davis considering they each bat better against opposite handed pitching. First base has been the weakest part of the infield for the Rangers and whether the Rangers decide on the Platoon option or on Garko as their primary first baseman this upcoming seasonthe infielder is stronger with his acquisition.